Category Archives: Site News

Giving Something Back

Today, for the first time, I accepted advertising. Don’t worry. I’m not selling out. It all went to charity, and there’s more where that came from.

The advertisers are linked below. They are UK-based retailers for outdoor equipment:

Cotswold Outdoor
Springfield Camping

There will be more coming soon from some mountain events, and possibly a couple bike shops.

This is a first for SteepClimbs. I had previously received overtures from companies wanting to promote themselves on the website. No thanks, I said. The site is not for sale.

Let me backtrack ..

Independence Pass triumphant!

Independence Pass

Last summer when I was riding up Independence Pass in Colorado, I had an experience of sorts. You could call it an epiphany, a revelation, a realization, or whatever. It was on that ride that I determined my life’s goal to give something back.

To get from where I started years ago as an overweight lump, wasting away on the couch, to someone who rides up 12,000 or 14,000 feet mountains for the pleasure, was inspiring. I wanted to make it my mission to inspire others, and to use my resources as a way of helping others.

This website didn’t start as a commercial venture. I never intended, nor even hoped, to make a dime off it. Frankly, I have a good career, live within my means, and am not looking for an extra source of income. This is just an extension of my passion, my hobby. The fact that people find this thing interesting is an added bonus.

After just recently passing the 100,000 mark, I heard from a few different parties. This time I was more willing to listen, not because I’m looking to make some money, but because this was a way I could give something back.

Since that Independence Pass ride, I’ve been searching for a charity partner that I could work with. At first I struck out, but the search slowly continued.

I settled on the American Diabetes Association for a number of reasons. First and foremost, diabetes is the cause that I feel most aligns with my interests. My goal is to inspire people to be healthy, active, and to reduce their risk. Many of my friends and family have suffered from diabetes. It is a lethal disease, but in many cases, it can be fought.

TDC sidebar

Second, the ADA has annual Tour de Cure events throughout the country. Not only do these benefit diabetes, but they also encourage the local cycling community. The local Tour de Cure is one of the most popular rides in our city.

Here’s how the program will work. All donations will be considered advertising, and will be funneled through the event. You can follow my fundraising progress at the new Tour de Cure section of the website, or donate directly through the Tour de Cure site.

Anyone who donates any amount will get their name and a link of their choice in that section (if they want). The higher the donation amount, the higher the placement on the list.

Anyone who donates $50 or above will get a prominent graphic link on the sidebar of every page of this site. That means that donating a small amount to charity means you are advertising on this website, potentially reaching thousands of cyclists. Again, the more that is donated, the higher the positioning of the link.

The donation links in the Tour de Cure section will remain archived forever. The links on the sidebar will stay on the website until the Tour de Cure on May 4th, 2013. After that, I will restart the fundraising effort for another event to be announced.

A lot of websites and blogs will ask for support through Paypal, clicking on Amazon links, or visiting sponsors. For many, that’s just because they want to generate income. I’m asking you to support my website by helping out others and donating to a great cause. If you appreciate what I do, I ask you to follow my example and give something back.

Breakthrough Week

It has now been nearly seven weeks since my last ride. The time off has been a roller coaster, sometimes with extreme pain, sometimes with absolute boredom. Fortunately, it looks like I am finally closer to the end of my recovery than the beginning.

After two weeks of making hardly any progress, major strides came this week. On Tuesday, I noticed that something felt different. I had more flexibility, mobility, and less soreness. A dull ache existed, at times worse than others, but it was drastically better than it had been a few days before. That was my first breakthrough day. It became even better on Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday. It feels remarkably better now.

I’m not out of the woods yet. On Monday I will visit Dr. Ekman again, probably get an X-ray, and a direction for treatment. It is possible I’ll need another MRI (Ugh!). My guess is that the fracture has mostly healed, but there are some other soft tissue issues underneath the labrum that still need to be dealt with. There is some lingering soreness, and I can tell that my hip still is not quite right. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be able get everything working in harmony again, and that I can begin training on the bike soon.

In two weeks, I will register for the Assault on Mount Mitchell again. That seems like a bold commitment at this stage of the year, but one I am prepared to make. Even if I cannot train like I have the last couple of years, this is the ride I want to do every year. I’m banking on having enough carryover fitness to make it to the finish line, however slowly, without focusing on time. Any training I can manage until then will be a bonus.

Speaking of Mitchell, my friends in the southeast might be interested to know that I am now blogging for the 2013 Assault. The first post is up now, and more will follow. Much of my material will not be new to readers of this blog, and a few things will be cross-posted over the next few months. I’ll be an editor of sorts as well, working with a few others for different perspectives and tips, varying from beginners to professionals. Even if you do not ride in the Mitchell event, you might find the material useful to prepare for any sort of endurance event.

Finally, I’d like to give a couple shout outs. It was a tough decision for me to bail on this year’s Haute Route plans, even if it was the right decision. I want to thank Wes for backing out with me. We had planned to do the ride together, were going to train together, fly together, and be roommates during the entire event. We both deferred our registrations and plan to participate in the 2014 event.

The final shout out is to the Vicious Cycle team. Wes and I left them in the lurch by backing out. Fortunately they were able to find a couple replacements rather quickly. Keeping in the spirit of internationalism, they added Julian from Edinburgh, UK, and Patrick from Sydney, Australia. They now have a great looking kit, which I’ll be following for this year’s event.

Another Type of Century

Site stats


Today the website passed 100,000 pageviews. Given that I started this blog just as a personal journal, a way to document my progress during a fitness challenge, that’s an insane number. I never expected it to get this big. The vast majority of this traffic came in the last year, approximately 90,000 views.

To celebrate this milestone, I thought I would spend some time talking about what people read here, where they come from, and what they do. In other words, I’m going to give you website stats, which you’ll probably find incredibly captivating or mind-numbingly boring.

Most Popular Ride Pages

1. Assault on Mount Mitchell – 1,888 views

This is the ride that got the blog started, and it’s the one I plan (hope) to complete every year. This is my A ride, and I’m glad that so many other riders find value in my experience.

2. Assault on the Carolinas – 1,112 views

This is still one of my favorite rides, and they were nice enough to link to me recently from their website.

3. Bridge to Bridge – 1,027 views

Yet another one of my favorite rides, albeit in a cruel and masochistic way. They have also linked to me from their website.

4. Hot Doggett – 909 views

It seems like forever ago that I did this ride, and is one of my first articles to gain some popularity. I’m not sure whether it was the thinly veiled self deprecating humor in part one, or helping someone else in part two. Whatever it was, a lot of people read it.

5. Blue Ridge Breakaway – 609 views

This was my Ride of the Year for 2011, which resulted in a little bit of local press attention. It was a terrific ride and it grew in size this year. Hopefully I helped some with that.

Most Popular Non-Ride Pages

1. North Carolina Climbs – 1,554 views

The climbs section has become a large attraction of the site. I’ve put a lot of work into it, so this is something I’m proud of. Hopefully this area will continue to grow. North Carolina is naturally larger because they are in the heart of the Blue Ridge with some tremendous climbs.

2. South Carolina Climbs – 898 views

South Carolina also has some terrific climbs, but not nearly as many as North Carolina.

3. Hincapie Gran Fondo Announced – 786 views

This could qualify as a ride page, but it was more of a news item. I think this one became popular because of some lucky search engine positioning and a lot of interest in the event.

4. Dog Versus Man – 627 views

Honestly, I’m not sure why this one received so many posts. It was an earlier article and slowly but surely the hits have added up. Maybe people found it funny, even if at my expense.

5. Sassafras Mountain, Becky Mountain, and More! – 616 views

I guess you could call this one a ride post too, but it was not an organized event. I’m not sure why it received traction. Maybe because these are some of the tougher, unknown climbs in the area.

Top Referrers – Blogs

1. Bike Noob – 513 referrals

Seriously? I never realized so many people clicked through from there. Maybe it is because I had written a guest article once. I plan to write another soon. Ray may no longer fit the description of a ‘noob,’ but his blog is solid reading for beginners or experts.

2. The Climbing Cyclist – 178 referrals

This guys is a seriously hardcore climber in Australia. He puts me to shame. I was glad to be able to help him find some Carolina roads to ride when he visited stateside.

3. Vicious Cycle Blog – 104 referrals

Most of Gerry’s referrals should come as no surprise. We are teammates on the upcoming Haute Route race. Hopefully I’ve sent him a couple visitors as well.

4. There and Back Again – 76 referrals

In one of the world’s odd ironies, Steve also celebrated his 100,000th pageview on this very day. How cool is that? He’s a witty guy and tells some great stories. I also respect his appreciation for history.

5. Zeke’s Great Smokies Adventures – 56 referrals

Zeke’s a good guy who also tells wonderful tales. I know him best as the guy who helps put together the Blue Ridge Breakaway. He does a phenomenal job and I hope to see him in the Smokies again soon.

Top Referrers – Social Media

1. Facebook – 9,563 referrals

Social media is responsible for many of the traffic increases this year. Facebook was unquestionably the biggest difference. I first created the SteepClimbs Facebook page in the summer. That page is responsible for the majority of these referrals, and is a great way for people to keep up with the site.

2. Twitter – 883 referrals

Twitter is not nearly as ‘sticky’ as Facebook. While I post my blog updates there, they tend to pass quickly. I use Twitter primarily as a way of giving mini-updates, which is what I think it is best for.

3. Strava – 379 referrals

These are pretty much all my friends. I tend to link to my ride reports in the comments section of my Strava links. People click on them sometimes.

4. Google Reader – 176

I have no idea how many subscribe to the site via Google Reader. There must be a few if some people are clicking through. I believe my news feed is full text, so people probably only click when they are following links in an article.

Thanks for reading! I hope the second 100,000 views are just as enjoyable and interesting as the first.

The Column

As of earlier this week, I began writing a monthly (or thereabouts) column over at Carolina Cycling News. The topic is, not surprisingly, mountain centuries.

A couple people have asked me why I chose CCN, or more specifically, why not here?

Good question. These entries are, if I can coin a phrase, a lot ‘bloggier’ than what I’ll be writing at CCN. My intent there is to give an honest shot at some focused journalism. This gives me a good outlet. It doesn’t hurt that I respect CCN as a website, and it may end up giving me a little bit of exposure. There were a lot of factors in the decision.

That doesn’t mean I’ll neglect this site. Far from it. Very little will change, and I have some plans to revamp the Climbs section over the off-season. I’ll probably integrate my columns into this site to a certain degree, possibly with an index of all of them. That’ll probably come after I’ve published a couple more.

My first article is Centuries of the High Country. It compares and contrasts the rides in the surrounding Boone area, specifically Blue Ridge Brutal, Blood Sweat & Gears, and Bridge to Bridge.

New Section: Routes

A lot of the stuff I add to the website are things that I would want for myself. For example, my Climbs section was started because I was spending a lot of time looking for interesting roads to climb when training for my first Mitchell. It grew from there.

The Routes section came from the same place. When I am in the Blue Ridge area, I often don’t have time to seek out group rides to show me around. I am always looking for convenient routes that I can take by myself. I find a lot of them on the internet, and some I make for myself. It would have been amazing had there been a single resource where I could find them all. If I cannot find it, why not create it?

This section was conceived a few months ago when I was training for my second Mitchell. It would have been too time consuming to put together a list of cue sheets like the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club has done to perfection. Instead I decided to use newer technology and use RideWithGPS links. Because people all over use this software, the content is vast and limitless. It also allows people to view the route on a map, see the elevation profile, and download it to their GPS device.

To begin, I asked a few friends if I could use theirs. Special thanks go to Neil Turner, Michael Powell, Scott Baker, John McSwain, and Jeff Dilcher for providing a starting point.

As of right now, we have routes that begin in Spartanburg, North Greenville, Brevard, Sylva, Tryon, Atlanta, and the North Georgia Mountains. In time we will add plenty more.

I am looking for a good source of content for routes out all over the Southeast, but I would specifically like to find some from Asheville, Boone, and Roanoke. If you know of anyone who creates these for your town, please send them my way.

Keep an eye on this section as I expect it to grow. Keep in mind that there is danger in undertaking any of these routes. You’ll notice a disclaimer on every page for a reason. Do your research and make sure you are equipped before trying these. While some are easy, others are epic rides that few people can accomplish on their own.

Steep Climbs Routes

South Carolina Routes
North Carolina Routes
Georgia Routes